10 cool kids’ movies for animal-mad youngsters
By Jo Harris |

When it’s done right, a good animal movie is hard to beat . The best ones are those which give us a little bit of a laugh, perhaps a bit of a cry and, most importantly, allow us a small insight into the wonders of the animal kingdom. And these 10 films do just that!

 

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1. A Bug’s Life

Fast facts

This animated comedy, from the makers of Toy Story and produced by Pixar films, is based on Aesop’s fable,The Ant and the Grasshopper. The movie centres around a colony of ants who upset a group of grasshoppers for failing to provide an adequate food offering for the winter.

The best bits

The imaginative creatures in this film are hilarious to watch and the gags fly from the word go. The humor is solid gold!

The not-so-good bits

There aren’t any. This movie is 100 percent full-blown family fun for kids and grown-ups alike. Watch it and you will see why.

Recommended ages and rating

Preschoolers will be just as enchanted as older kids with this animated movie masterpiece. Rating: G

2. National Velvet

Fast facts

A classic film from 1944, starring Hollywood icons, Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor. The film tells the story of an ex-jockey who helps a young girl fulfil her dream of riding a horse in the Grand National Sweepstakes.

The best bits

Watching a young Elizabeth Taylor light up the screen is a real treat. Young horse lovers won’t be able to get enough of this horse crazy but charming movie.

The not-so-good bits

This film is a little dated and the quality of the picture might turn some kids off. At times the pace of the film is a little slow.

Recommended ages and rating

Best suited to wannabe equestrians aged six and up. Rating: G

3. Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey

Fast facts

Nominated for five Academy Awards, this 1988 American drama is based on the true story of naturalist Dian Fossey and her plight to save the endangered mountain gorillas of East Africa.

The best bits

Highly educational and entertaining, this is one important story that needs to be heard. Sigourney Weaver’s extraordinary performance allows us a small glimpse into the amazing life of a woman who did not believe in giving up.

The not-so-good bits

In the film, the extreme measures Fossey goes to in order to protect the gorillas are sometimes violent and more than a little scary. The movie ends with a brutal murder, which in itself can cause great distress for young viewers.

Recommended ages and rating

Everyone NEEDS to see this film, but probably not before their 12th birthday. Rating: PG-13

4. Ice Age

Fast facts

This highly acclaimed animated comedy adventure started the whole (snow) ball rolling. Since its release in 2002, there have been a further three films added to the Ice Age franchise. In this first film, three ‘sub-zero heroes’ try to return a lost human baby to its mother with unexpected consequences.

The best bits

The opening sequence, with Scrat (the sabre-toothed squirrel) trying desperately to hold onto his acorn, sets the tone for this seriously hilarious film. Silly with a capital S!

The not-so-good bits

The animation is not quite up to the standard of DreamWorks and DisneyPixar, but the laughs will still flow.

Recommended ages and rating

Expect giggles aplenty from kids aged five and up. Rating: PG

 

5. War Horse

Fast facts

Set in World War I, this 2011 war drama follows the story of a young man and his beloved horse, and the life-changing events that occur when they are both sent off to the battlefields. Directed by Steven Spielberg.

The best bits

Everything about this movie screams ‘epic Hollywood blockbuster’. From the touching story line to the incredible cinematography. It’s a powerful visual feast!

The not-so-good-bits

This movie is WAY too long, at almost two-and-a-half hours. If your kids can sit through the whole thing without a murmur, you’re doing well .

Recommended ages and rating

Realistic depictions of war and bloodshed means this film is not suitable for kids under 12. Rating: PG-13

6. Eight Below

Fast facts

Set in Antarctica, this 2006 drama adventure film was inspired by a true story and tells the tale of two explorers who must leave their team of sled dogs behind, in order to escape a massive storm.

The best bits

This movie promises an exciting plot, breathtaking cinematography and a pack of amazing Alaskan Huskies that steal the show.

The not-so-good bits

The gorgeous Huskies come to grief a few times in this film: injury, death and starvation plague the pack. It is overwhelmingly sad in some parts.

Recommended ages and rating

Recommended for brave dog-lovers aged seven plus. Rating: PG

7. Two Brothers

Fast facts

Set in 1920′s Cambodia, this family adventure film follows two sibling tiger cubs that are separated and reunited a year later, when they are forced to fight one another.

The best bits

This is a rare live-action animal adventure that seems to capture the essence of these magnificent animals without any animation or apparent trick photography. There’s also an important environmental take home message at the end of the movie.

The not-so-good bits

The action is a little too drawn out and the ending could be described as a little cheesy.

Recommended ages and rating

Some violent scenes means that this movie is best suited to kids aged seven and up. Rating: PG

8. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

Fast facts

Released in 2009, this dramatic movie is based on a true story, and is a remake of a Japanese film from 1987 about a college professor who befriends a stray dog. Stars Richard Gere.

The best bits

This movie is a beautiful ode to love, as we watch a powerful relationship develop between one man and a lost dog. The sentiment will stay with you forever.

The not-so-good bits

While Richard Gere gives a solid performance, without him this film would fall well short of the intended mark. Some critics have panned this film for being too schmaltzy.

Recommended ages and rating

This film is very intense and sad. Not recommended for kids under the age of seven. Rating: G

 9. Madagascar

Fast facts

Released in 2005, this animated comedy comes to us from DreamWorks Animation studios and features the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Sacha Baron-Cohen. Four zoo animals, who have lived their whole lives in captivity, escape and eventually become shipwrecked in Madagascar.

The best bits

The penguins get the most laughs in this cute and funny tale. And Baron Cohen’s King Julien is also worthy of applause.

The not-so-good bits

Although this movie did very well at the box office, it certainly didn’t wow the audience with anything new. Good animation, good plot, good characters – but nothing outstanding here.

Recommended ages and rating

Be warned that there are a few unsavoury jokes in this film. Recommended for kids aged six and up. Rating: PG

10. Dolphin Tale

Fast facts

Inspired by a true story, this family drama is based on a book of the same name. It tells the tale of a Bottlenose Dolphin who loses its tail in a crab trap. Against all odds the dolphin is rescued and fitted with a prosthetic replacement. Stars Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.

The best bits

A great story line that is delivered through believable acting, especially from Nathan Gamble, playing a young boy who forms a close relationship with Winter, the dolphin. Very inspiring, especially if you’re a dolphin devotee.

The not-so-good-bits

Could be a little too sickly sweet for grown-ups, but that doesn’t matter – it’s meant to be a film for kids, and a great one it is!

Recommended ages and rating

A well-told and heartfelt film, best suited to kids aged six and above. Rating: PG

This article was written by Jo Harris for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz

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